Study shows deadliest day for teen drivers is May 20

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Distractions can be deadly for teenagers behind the wheel. Numbers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show May 20 has been a somber day for American teens the past several years.

More girls than boys report that they will drive distracted in the future
• 51% of girls are likely to use a cell phone to talk, text or email while driving, versus 38% of boys
• 84% of girls are likely to adjust music selection or volume while driving, versus only 69% of boys

Source: Allstate Foundation

Warmer weather is one of the reasons drivers at West High School say they will be out on the roads May 20. When KSL News told them the date is the deadliest day on the roads for teens -- over the past five years claiming 63 percent more young lives than average -- they had a few ideas why.

"A lot of my friends, when we drive places, sometimes they text; but you know, everyone does it. I've done it," said Macos Aragon.

"You're on your phone with a boyfriend. That is distracting," a teen driver named Tongi said.

Another teen driver named Alieta said, "I see a lot of texting. I always honk my horn at them when they are texting."

According to the Allstate Foundation, 49 percent of teens report texting distractions. That's up from 31 percent five years ago. The foundation also says about 82 percent of teens report using cell phones while driving.

Texting is teen's biggest distraction behind the wheel
• More than 49% of teens report texting as a distraction, up from 31% in 2005
• 82% of teens report using cell phones while driving, while 23% admit to drinking and driving
• More than 60% of teens worry about getting into a car accident, but still admit to practicing distracting or harmful actions while driving

Source: Allstate Foundation

"Getting cell phones out of their hands is one of the main things -- not to text and drive and, if possible, not to talk and drive as well," said Trooper Cameron Roden, spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Roden advised parents to set boundaries with their kids and limit cell phone use while driving. Another lifesaver: seat belts.

"That's going to be one of the best things to help teens survive if they are involved in an accident, the simple act of putting a seat belt on," Roden said.

Most of the young drivers we talked to said they aren't too worried about driving on the roads this May 20.

"I know I will make it through that day," Alieta said.

But there was one exception.

"I'll probably let my mom drive, just to be safe," Tongi said.

According to the Allstate Foundation survey, more than 75 percent of teens admit they feel unsafe when another teen is driving, but only 59 percent are willing to speak up.


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Amanda Butterfield


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